Sponsored by CEFPI and NAR® in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the American Institute of Architects, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and more than 20 other associations and private companies, the annual competition challenges middle school teams across the country to think creatively as they design tomorrow's green schools to enhance learning, conserve resources, be environmentally responsive and engage the surrounding community.
Six student teams of middle school students traveled to the nation's capital to compete in the final leg of the School of the Future Design Competition, held annually to strengthen public awareness of the importance of well-planned, healthy, safe and high-performing school buildings that enhance student and teacher performance and contribute to community culture and vitality.
"Facing a formidable 20-person jury would be a daunting experience for most adults, but these students took them on without a blink of an eye!" remarked Don Gillmore, AIA, REFP, CEFPI chairman of the Board. "The competition was rigorous and the students continue to raise the bar. Today's middle-schoolers are innately socially responsible and committed to creating healthy, high performing schools and communities. This year's submissions epitomized project-based learning and demonstrated a deep understanding of the planning process and rationale."
The Awards of Excellence went to Seneca Middle School, Macomb, MI and Teeland Middle School, Wasilla, AK. Heritage Middle School, Wake Forest, NC and Newtown Middle School, Newtown, CT captured Awards of Merit. Awards of Commendation were presented to Michael R. Null Middle School., Houston, TX and Valley Academy, Phoenix, AZ.
"It was my pleasure to chair such a prestigious jury for this event," remarked David Schrader, AIA. "As the day progressed, it was clear that no matter how experienced and talented each of the panel members were, the children's message, knowledge, passion and enthusiasm humbled each and every one of us. Placing a strong emphasis on learning styles and culture, the students acknowledged that what they do today has tremendous impact on their personal and global future. This memorable day left us all believing that if these students represent the leaders of tomorrow, our future is in good hands."
The Award of Excellence and $2,000 went to Seneca Middle School for their outstanding planning process and analysis of urban renewal, from the macro to the micro. Utilizing the barren space of Tiger Stadium while preserving its heritage, the students designed a magnet boarding school with extended hours and small classes to accommodate learning. Tying student learning to real life, students work on an organic farm housed in former parking areas, providing food for the school with surplus for the local food bank. A clear sense of community was evident in their global thought process focused on tying in to city transportation systems. The project exemplified "renew, reuse and recycle" from programs within the facility to the actual facility design. Outstanding features include a virtual reality room, green roof, heating and cooling controlled by temperature sensitive "smart bricks" and smart boards in each "u-shaped" classroom.
Teeland Middle School also received the Award of Excellence and $2,000 for its innovative design describing three basic learning areas – sustainability, environment and community – which defined the integrated curriculum and were portrayed by three building wings symbolizing the surrounding mountains. Their eco-friendly, site sensitive approach and culturally-derived design is highlighted in the central common area reflecting native Alaskan architecture. They implemented green technologies such as a hydroponic garden, solar-paneled glass domed roofs, geothermal heating and cooling, vertical axis windmills and hydro-electric power with excess energy sold back to the grid and featured exterior school walls covered in vegetation. The jury applauded their highly professional and passionate presentation as well as their exceptional planning process, reinforcing the value of each team member.
Following the theme of "the future is now", Heritage Middle School took away $1,000 and the Award of Merit for their eco-friendly renovation of an historic building and community icon. Incorporating existing technologies and interdisciplinary learning into a school of the future, the students realize future potential now, not in 30 years. Focusing on 21st century learning skills and cognizant of different learning styles, they created a prototype for pocket STEM schools to serve other schools in the area. Their proximity to Research Triangle affords student access to business and academic sources for teaching and learning. Boasting three alternative energy sources generated on campus and transmitted through the school’s passive and active solar power plant, the school sells power back to the grid. The school is truly a community center with several public areas and a fitness trail located in the arboretum.
A second Award of Merit and $1,000 was awarded to Newtown Middle School for their eco-friendly and environmentally conscious school and community learning environment that inspires conservation, responsibility and prepares students for the challenges of life. Demonstrating a comprehensive planning process with exemplary research, their design includes skylights, multi-purpose flexible classrooms, light sensors, automated climate control and a green roof. A nearby river houses an underwater classroom making this school a remarkable learning tool. The school features three clean energy sources -thin-film solar panels, wind turbines and a dam providing hydro-electric power. Offering a community garden, telescope dome for astronomy studies, athletic fields and other facilities for public use, the school plays a major role in the community.
Michael R. Null Middle School and Valley Academy each received Awards of Commendation and $500. Demonstrating a tremendous grasp of various learning opportunities, Michael R. Null Middle School features elective classes linked to career development with community leaders. Their net-zero school incorporates hydropower to fuel its water source from a freshwater lake. The lake provides fresh water that is filtered and purified and can supply the entire community. The school creates its own electricity with a solar glass roof. Underfloor sensors respond to the weight of students to create an electrical pulse. Valley Academy involved the entire 7th grade in their collaborative planning process of a single educational space. Their art studio incorporates vibrant colors and lighting to stimulate creativity. The jury applauded their successful problem-solving of real world issues.
PreservationNation: Student Designers Give Historic Ballfield and Mill New Lives, by National Trust for Historic Preservation on May 24, 2011
2011 School of the Future Jury Members